Can The NCAA Be Forced To Have a D-1 Playoff In Football?

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Can The NCAA Be Forced To Have a D-1 Playoff In Football?
(Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)

Several on Bleacher Report have written about how great it would be if there was some sort of playoff in D-1 (I refuse to use FBS or whatever the acronym is) football.  Recently the issue was raised in Congress. 

Having nothing better to do, I thought what were the chances an external forces could pressure the NCAA into establishing a football playoff. 

 

Let's start with Congress. There are two possible scenarios.

1. The BCS conferences/schools, whether they are for or against a playoff, are against congressional involvement. Since BCS schools are in states with more votes than states without a BCS team, there is almost zero probability of any law being passed. 

2. Conversely, assume those conferences/schools, which actually want a playoff, urge their congressmen to pass legislation requiring one. The odds of a law being passed increase substantially. For the sake of discussion, say a law is passed.  

Although I'm no lawyer, I think the NCAA could get the law overturned in federal court.  It's hard to imagine the courts allowing such a prescedent for government interference in internal affairs of voluntary organization being set.

 

OK, Congress is a dead end. How about the courts?

One possible approach would be for a conference or school to sue the NCAA through antitrust laws. The situation would be similar to when the NCAA's television monopoly was broken up in 1984. What are some, not necessarily all, possible outcomes?

1. The courts do nothing to change the status quo.

2. Require more non-BCS school be included in predetermined bowl pairings.  For example; instead of the 6th ranked SEC team playing the 6th ranked Big XII team, a first or second ranked non-BCS team could be substituted for one of the slots.

It would be sort of an affirmitive action plan for college football.

3. Require an even distribution of expenses after post season and TV income among all D-1 schools. This would definitely get the NCAA's attention.

4. Order the breakup of the BCS as being in violation of antitrust laws through its virtual monopoly of media exposure and post season revenues. 

 

If you noticed, my possible solutions did not include forcing a playoff. As I said before, I don't think the courts would force the NCAA to initiate a playoff.

Can the fans, especially those with the deepest pockets, do the trick?

They probably could force a change, but they won't.

The reason they won't is the various groups of fans and backers are focused on their team and are not organized in a way, which encourages cooperation with other groups of fans on any issue.

If the government cannot and the fans are too disorganized, who can force a playoff in D-1 football? There is one thing, which talks louder than anything when it comes to intercollegiate athletics; MONEY. 

The media, CBS, ESPN, and many other outlets, are the one segment of society the NCAA will listen to.

Why do you think, short of a coach caught handing the keys to a new car to a recruit, no big time football program will ever be penalized in a way, which hurts TV ratings (banned from TV or bowl games) again? 

If the moneybags decide a playoff is the way to go, I think the NCAA, including the Big 10, PAC 10, and Rose Bowl, can be convinced.

Solve the problem the old fashioned American way. Throw money at it. 

 

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